This is a very simple version of the great classic dessert, crème brûlée, made with an easy posset (that has barely any hand-on time), which I like to serve with easy (no rolling out!) orange shortbread biscuits.
Rather than make and slowly bake a custard in a water bath, as you would for the classic crème brûlée, I have gone for the very simple posset as the base: a centuries-old classic English set cream, which has a delightfully sharp, fragrant flavour that is gorgeously melt-in-the-mouth.
The cream is set by the acid in the fruit juice but because the cream is boiled, it will not curdle; it will simply set to a very soft, luscious texture.
I popped a few frozen raspberries (still getting through last year’s allotment pickings – oh the hardship!) into the base of the pots before pouring over the cream. However, at this time of year lightly poached or roasted rhubarb is wonderful.
A shortbread accompaniment
You are, of course, under no obligation to have accompaniments with this dessert, but if you feel forced, then might I recommend small shortbread biscuits. My shortbread of choice with these brûlées is orange shortbread.
Varying the fruit
You can vary the fruit and use whatever is in season or whatever takes your fancy, but you do need acidity to set the cream: passion fruit is wonderful in place of the orange as, of course, is using lemon for the classic lemon posset.
As a rule of thumb, 2 medium lemons to 300ml cream gives a good set, but you can add more lemon juice. For other fruit, you need about 100ml juice per 300ml cream used for a good set, but a little more than this is not going to harm it at all.
A rhubarb and ginger treat!
Lightly poached or roasted rhubarb (mix with sugar and roast at 160C, fan, for about 15 minutes) in the base of each ramekin is wonderful – especially at this time of the year. A very generous grating of fresh ginger into the simmering cream or finely chopped stem ginger (they type you buy in syrup).
Recipe: easy orange & raspberry brûlées – serves 6
For the posset:
- 600ml double cream
- juice of 3 large oranges
- finely grated zest of 2 of the oranges (the zest of the remaining orange can be used in the shortbread, if making)
- 120g caster sugar
- small punnet fresh raspberries, plus extra to decorate
For the brûlée topping:
- about 9 teaspoons of granulated sugar
For the posset brûlée:
(1) Put the cream, orange zest and the caster sugar into a small pan over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 4 minutes to thicken slightly, and remove from the heat.
(2) Stir in the orange juice, until well combined: it will thicken slightly. Leave to cool a little.
(3) Place a few raspberries in the base of small ramekins. Pour the orange cream over them, ensuring the raspberries are fully covered. Gently rap the base of the ramekins on the work surface to ensure there is no trapped air. If any raspberries float to the surface, just push them back down again. Leave to set, uncovered, in the fridge for several hours or ideally overnight.
NB: you leave them uncovered if you want to brûlée the tops as you want a bit of skin to form: this skin will give the posset a little extra protection when blow-torching the surface.
(4) Just before you want to serve them, sprinkle about about teaspoon and a half of sugar in a thin layer all over the surface and use the blow torch for about half a minute per ramekin: the trick is to have the flame a few inches away from the sugar, and gently go over the sugar, a little area of the top at a time until that part starts to turn molten and just bubbles and darkens, before moving the flame to the next part of the surface. Once you have gone over all of the surface, gently point the flame at any white bits of sugar visible to caramelise that. The sugar will set to a hard caramel as it cools – which will only take a minute or so.